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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Prague, Czech Rep

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Prague

Did you receive any cross-cultural training for your move abroad? If yes, was it before or after the move?

None

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If they speak another language in your new country, do you speak the language? If yes, did you learn the language before you moved or while abroad? If no, are you planning to learn the language?

I have tried to learn the language in small doses.

Were you worried or concerned about culture shock before you moved abroad?

I definitely was worried. I didn't want to put too many expectations on everything but I knew it would change my life, it already has.

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How significant was the culture shock you experienced when you moved abroad?

Culture shock for me was pretty intense. I'm used to people smiling on the st, saying hi, good vibes, welcoming culture and it was actually the opposite here. People are rude, they don't walk around you, they walk into you. People don't say 'excuse me'. These small things were hard to take for the first month or two. Now I'm getting used to it more, I'm more 'immune' to it. I have cried a lot, I miss home a lot, I start thinking about my comforts at home and I start to feel sad. I even reconsider my plans sometimes and think of ways that can make my trip a little quicker and not so long. Now I'm going through another phase of home sickness and I just gotta put things into perspective and do things that I don't normally do, really find things about myself, explore the unknown, be silly. That's what its all about.

Expats often talk about going through the "stages of culture shock." Examples include the honeymoon phase, the irritation-to-anger stage, the rejection of the culture stage, and the cultural adjustment phase. Do you feel like you went through these or any other stages as you settled into the new culture?

YES, I went through every stage. At first (first few days) was the honeymoon stage for me. I was so overwhelmed from jetlag and culture, that all I wanted to do was sleep. I then started hating everything and that was a few weeks in. I didn't like the trains, the people, the ads, the food, the language. It all got to me and I was very upset in that stage I couldn't speak to my family for a month. After that I went through another happy phase, almost a secondary honeymoon phase and so now I still do feel I'm slowly getting through another phase which I THINK is adjustment lol. It's tough, being my first real trip and all. It's taken a toll on my partner and I, it's really tested our relationship too.

What, if any, were some of the changes you noticed in yourself that might have been caused by culture shock? These might include things such as anger, depression, anxiety, increased eating or drinking, frustration, homesickness, etc.

Definitely homesickness is no.1. I miss my family, friends. But this has been a blessing because its made me realise how important they are to me. I've had more mood swings, more than when I was at home. Become more aggressive towards bf and become annoyed at little things that don't really matter. I've had spouts of being depressed, being confused with what to do, anxiety, frustration all comes into it. I've found that these little things are triggered when ur alone. You need friends around u so u don't have the time to think to yourself about things. Share house!

What are some things you appreciate most about the new culture?

There ARE some manners I like. People willing hop up to give somebody older their seat on the bus/train. People offer the help with directions a lot. There are no standards with dress, everyone wears what they want to wear! Its great. There is no corporate standard..levels within society. Most people like to relax and enjoy life..with a beer

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

The language, and mannerisms of czech people. Street signs!! Terrible..You have to approach crossings slowly as there are no traffic lights..very rarely. Smoking everywhere..indoors/outdoors..young teenagers..you name it.

Did you "commit" any embarrassing or humorous cultural blunders? If you did and you'd like to share them, please do tell!

Pronouncing vocab wrongly..finding out its totally different..saying no instead of yes to a cab driver lol

Do you have any advice or thoughts about culture shock you would like to share?

Research about the place u r going to aka culture/mannerisms/language etc and know what ur in for. I'm an aussie chick and this has definitely been a challenge. You need to be open minded and remind yourself you will always have a home and you will miss this place once you step foot out of it.

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Comments about this Report

guest
Apr 9, 2012 01:43

Wow! My experience thus far has been 180 degree. Helps that my spouse is from Czech so I have someone to help me navigate. She also has been teaching me to learn the language as has a Pinseleur course. She gives me 2-3 "daily" words to learn and that has increased my word knowledge from zero to currently over 200 words. Czech people have been nicer to me then anybody USA! Eager to know my opinion concerning their Country and polite. Helps to understand their demeanor though. If you approach an unknown Czech with "Jak se mate?" They will find it rude of you. My wife adds who are you to want to know about me like that. They will be offended thus. To an American you just want to be nice but to a Czech that is too personal! Czech is also a VERY clean place. First thing I noticed. Also helps that I use to reside in Germany so I am very familiar with life in Europa and thus with traffic signs. Again it also helps to have a Czech spouse to navigate outside of Praha. Been to over 16 Czech cities and to Wineries in Monrovia that I never knew existed. Beautiful place and great if you love nature and the outdoors.

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